About fifteen months ago, Lucy and I were bounced off a flight to Chicago by overbooking. But being jolly decent people, Virgin Atlantic offered us a deal. Go next day, and they offered us two tickets anywhere in the world, except Australia (They don’t own Australia, the lady said. Murdoch does? I wondered). If not our Oyster, the world was to be, for a week, perhaps, some other kind of rubbernecked bivalve mollusc.
2009 was our silver wedding anniversary year, and the kids put on a brilliant do for us at home. We could go somewhere together on our own, for the third time in 25 years.
We had two nights away from home for our tenth anniversary, with a working trip to India for Schools development in 2007.
So, with a world to choose from (except Australia), we chose Cape Town. Two of the most influential people in my young life (he said unpretentiously) had strong associations with Cape Town — the teacher who taught me how to read a poem, and my research supervisor at Oxford. We’d never been. Now we had nothing to lose but our children... for a week. Witha little help from our friends, Bob was our Uncle. Or Richard, perhaps. This week finds us rubbernecking, not writing postcards (too lazy) but with the opportunity to put an few pictures on the blog.
We begin almost overwhelmed by a beautiful country in midsummer, still very much under construction, but with everything to play for. There's a lot of beauty around us, and a vibrancy in the air.
The challenges are considerable, though, including the way it’s becoming a magnet, or lightning conductor, or something like that for all of Africa — its refugees, its resources, its challenges.
Surprises await around every corner. I’ve never seen a harbour as full of seals, not only rolling around just under the surface, but sitting only a few feet away from people, slobbing about. They also do a particularly nifty line in what looks like Synchronised Swimming, sticking their flippers in the air in a kind of mock-Jaws impersonation that probably cools them down, or warm them up, or something. It entertained us anyway...